A brain, a heart, and courage? (Falmouth, MA)

Jul 18, 2012


Remember how in The Wizard of Oz, the Scarecrow finally gets a brain, the Tin Man gets a heart, and the cowardly Lion gets courage?

Fast forward a century to Falmouth, Mass, where a brain, a heart, and courage have been notably lacking among the wizards of City Hall—especially those on the Board of Health (BoH), which would seem like a logical place for brains, compassion, and courage.

Well, maybe that’s about to change.  The BoH recently sent a plaintive letter to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, with the opening lines:

The Falmouth Board of Health requests that Mass DPH (Dept. of Public Health) immediately initiate a health assessment of the impacts of the operation of wind turbines in Falmouth. This appeal is compelled by two years of consistent and persistent complaints of health impacts during turbine operation. . .

Excuse me, but I thought the Mass DPH had already assembled the greatest brains in the Commonwealth and issued a report definitively showing Wind Turbine Syndrome to be scientific and clinical bullshit?  Now the Falmouth BoH wants Mass DPH to revisit its bullshit report?  (I’m confused!  Which is bullshit?  WTS or the Mass DPH report on it?)

Anyhow, click here to read the remainder of the BoH plea to Mass DPH.

Is the Wind Turbine “Wicked Witch” finally going to be slain in Falmouth, MA?


  1. Comment by Dr Sarah Laurie on 07/18/2012 at 8:35 pm

    At last, there is a local health authority somewhere in the world, doing what it is supposed to do – listen to the adverse health reports, and take action.

    The physical and mental health problems are real, serious, and at times life threatening. They are also predictable.

    They cannot be denied any longer.

    Low frequency noise and infrasound have long been known to have the potential to cause harm to health. This is peer reviewed and published science, based on actual empirical data, for far too long ignored or “buried”.

    Leventhall, Pelmear and Benton’s 2003 Literature Review for DEFRA even describes a case control study showing symptoms identical to Wind Turbine Syndrome which occurred with exposure to low frequency noise (see page 49 – the symptoms are listed).

    Wind turbines emit low frequency noise, now being measured in the US and Australia inside and outside the homes and workplaces of these very sick people, and being shown to be present when those people have symptoms. When the turbines are off, the people do not get the symptoms. Many cannot see whether or not the wind turbines are operating when they are getting the symptoms, especially at night. Turbine operation at the time of symptoms occurring is confirmed by going outside, or by looking at power output records for the wind development 24 hours later, if the acoustic data is not available.

    Wind turbines also emit infrasound, long denied by the wind industry, but now also being shown to be emitted by modern upwind turbines, and also present inside and outside the homes and workplaces of very sick people. The sound signature is characteristic of wind turbines. Well insulated homes change the proportions of different frequencies of sound energy inside homes, resulting in greater low frequency noise proportionately. This means that outside acoustic measurements cannot be reliably used to guess internal exposures overnight – they must be MEASURED.

    The US National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences produced a literature review in 2001, which lists abstracts detailing animal and human pathology which occurs with infrasound exposure. The volume of research is not extensive, but there is enough there which shows that stress hormones are released (adrenaline and cortisol), that focal organ damage can occur with chronic exposure, and that oxidative stress is one mechanism causing damage (feeding rats antioxidants in one group resulted in much less visible damage – reference 58).

    Section 10 of the abovementioned Leventhall DEFRA Literature review details the then known links between low frequency noise exposure and physiological stress/cortisol.

    Chronic stress was well known in 1998 to be extremely damaging for long term physical and mental health, and the published peer reviewed medical evidence since then has just continued to accumulate. Bruce McEwen’s article in the New England Journal of Medicine 1998 clearly described circumstances where the body’s ability to cope with stress is overwhelmed. Rapid aging effects are noted.

    These physiological mechanisms, and this pattern of damage to health are precisely what is happening to people all around the world, living too close for too long to industrial wind turbines.

    It is not hard to join the dots. It is all there, in the 2003 Leventhall document.

    How close is too close? Well, it depends on lots of factors, and there is not yet the information required to start constructing dose response curves in order to predict what a safe distance is. No government anywhere in the world has yet conducted the proper studies, despite these problems being identified by medical practitioners since 2003. However, there are reports from France of residents at altitude having to leave their homes at over 11km from 2MW turbines, because of serious health problems characteristic of chronic exposure to infrasound and low frequency noise from wind turbines.

    This is just as Leventhall and his colleagues described in 2003, on page 49 and Section 10 of their very important DEFRA Literature Review.

  2. Comment by preston mcclanahan on 07/18/2012 at 9:02 pm

    Isn’t there an event here that is a case for a class action suit? If so, and if everyone would contribute to a legal fund, couldn’t a case proceed against the wind industry in Massachsetts? Or am I dreaming?

    Such a case would reveal the nasty truths behind the winders.

    Editor’s reply: The man to ask is Chris Senie, a Mass. attorney who has represented a number of people against wind developers. He’s also represented several anti-turbine groups, I believe. Nina & I would certainly contribute. If you want to start a fund-raising campaign, we can do it on this site if you lead the way.

  3. Comment by Andreas Marciniak on 07/19/2012 at 12:52 am

    So finally a small light at the end 0f a long tunnel. Let’s hope we can get some of that here in Australia, where a brain, a heart, and courage can go a long way to solve this problem before it gets any worse.

    I agree with Dr. Sarah Laurie, “How close is too close? Well, it depends on lots of factors, and there is not yet the information required to start constructing dose response curves in order to predict what a safe distance is. No government anywhere in the world has yet conducted the proper studies.” However, my own experience after living in Waterloo, South Australia with 37 x 3 MW turbines: Once you have been affected you can feel the ill effects even farther away then 11 km. Because of serious health problems characteristic of chronic exposure to infrasound and low frequency noise from wind turbines, it can follow you around, and things can get to you that would have never bothered you before. I worry now if I’m able to fly again because of the altitude and confined space and the turbines on the aircraft.

  4. Comment by Dr Sarah Laurie on 07/19/2012 at 10:49 am

    Andreas, unfortunately I have heard your situation all too often. There does appear to be a group of people who have been badly sensitised, who find it very difficult to escape from the ubiquitous low frequency noise, and who then report perceiving it out to distances as great as 30 km and sometimes more.

    Sensitisation was also mentioned in the 2003 DEFRA document, so it has been noted as a phenomenon by acousticians for a long time.

    I have had people describe problems flying in aircraft and when they are exposed to other sources of infrasound and low frequency noise, such as air conditioning compressors. However, we do know that cessation of exposure (if that is possible) will start to help the body to recover as much as it can. Continued exposure to ILFN has the opposite effect.

  5. Comment by Curt Devlin on 07/19/2012 at 10:58 am

    Before we get too optimistic about the light at the end of the tunnel we should check to see if it is a train coming in our direction. I salute the Falmouth BoH for having the courage to finally do the right thing. After two years they are taking complaints seriously. More than any other local body, the BoH has the highest responsibility to protect local residents from these harms caused by industrial turbines. The fiscal impact must fall where it most belongs, in the laps of the Select board. We may yet see whether they prove to be more like the worthy Burghers of Calais.

    In the meantime, however, our optimism should be tempered. The unchecked ambitions of the Governor, Deval Patrick, have worked underhandedly and successfully to defeat any challenge to the unchecked expansion of wind many times in the past. The Falmouth BoH may have to show more courage yet, to avoid being co-opted by Patrick’s minions in the DEP and elsewhere. It seems the ‘P’ in DEP is silent now.

    Deval Patrick wants 2000 MW of wind capacity by 2020. You can tell how deeply this was thought through by the nice round numbers. However, as distinguished economist, Robert Bryce has pointed out, wind turbines only produce about five megawatts per square mile. For our esteemed governer to reach his ambitious goals, he will have to carpet 8 times the area of Boston, 400 square miles of our most precious and ecologically sensitive environment. This is not to mention the countless victims he has yet to create, as Massachusetts is one of the most densely populated states in America. Of course, very few will be in Boston. The governer has to live there.

    It seems that, to achieve the “greening” of Massachusetts communities, Deval Patrick is ready, willing and able to destroy them. We must work together to stop him before he stops us. Falmouth BoH be brave and we will stand by you.

  6. Comment by Curt Devlin on 07/19/2012 at 5:58 pm

    Lest anyone mistakenly take Calvin’s sarcastic flourish too literally, I should hasten to add that there truly are great scientific and medical minds in Massachusetts. Not least among them, I would count Dr. Raymond Hartmann of MIT, who has published on this site. I have also had the pleasure and distinct honor of working with others from MGH, Brigham and Women’s, and Harvard Medical School, who are quietly advancing science and medicine for the benefit of all.

    However, none of these names were on the DEP panel and you will never see any of them associated with the lame and unconscionable attempts to discredit Dr. Pierpont’s impeccable work, or denigrate her credentials. (I equate this effort with trying to destroy the Rock of Gibraltar with doughnuts.)
    One of the criticisms, used by the MA-DEP/DPH to completely dismiss Dr. Pierpont’s study, was that her sample of 38 subjects was too small. Ironically, these “great minds” on the panel had not spoken to even a single patient, not one single victim of adverse health impacts from turbines. In fact, to the best of my knowledge, none of them had ever examined a patient suffering from exposure to turbines.

    This was at a time when the victims from Falmouth turbines were clamoring, literally begging, to be interviewed, so that their voices could be heard. It is a disgrace for DEP/DPH to even reference “public health” in its name. As I said at the time, the final score stands at Pierpont: 38, MA-DEP: 0.

    Calvin was quite right to describe this report as ‘bullshit’; without question, le mot just. Dr. Hartmann has described it as “junk science.” The pointy tip of Calvin’s sarcasm is well placed on an agency whose sole purpose appears to be supporting the ruthless, misguided ambition of the Governor, regardless of the cost to human health and well-being that it was created to protect.

  7. Comment by Freeman on 10/10/2012 at 10:49 pm

    Good post. I am going through many of these issues as well.

The comments are closed.